ANDERSON – Those folks still celebrating Southern heritage surely feel the ground shifting beneath their feet.
After the mayor of Richmond, Virginia, announced plans to remove all of that city’s Confederate monuments, Republican state Sen. Amanda Chase took to Facebook.
“Let’s be honest here,” she said. “There’s an overt effort to erase all white history.”
Then came the bipartisan legislation aimed at removing the names of Confederate generals from the nation’s military installations. The bill was sponsored by two members of the House Armed Services Committee, Democrat Anthony Brown of Maryland and Republican Don Bacon of Nebraska.
“It matters to the black soldier serving at an installation honoring the name of a leader who fought to preserve slavery and oppression,” said Brown, a retired Army Reserve colonel. “It matters to the culture of inclusivity and unity needed for our military to get the job done.”
Bacon, a retired Air Force brigadier general, agreed.
“As the most diverse and integrated part of American society, it is only right that our installations bear the names of military heroes who represent the best ideals of our Republic,” he said. “We owe this to ourselves, to our military, our veterans and to every American who will answer the call.”
And then came NASCAR.
“The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” the organization said in its announcement. “Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
That Facebook post drew roughly 75,000 comments in 24 hours.
“And JUST LIKE THAT... I’m NOW DONE WITH NASCAR!” one guy wrote.
Not everyone agreed.
“I can’t believe NASCAR is taking this stance, but I’m deeply heartened by it,” read another post. “I haven’t watched a NASCAR event since I was a kid spending time with my dad, but I might just have to spend some time at one now.”
Some of the reactions were humorous. Several noted that the Civil War ended more than 150 years ago.
“Another devastating loss for the confederacy,” one wrote.
Others suggested that the flag’s defenders should still feel right at home at NASCAR races because the flag of surrender would still be waving with one lap to go.
“Heritage not hate,” the flag’s defenders shout, but the slogan rings hollow when you examine the history.
The Encyclopedia Britannica calls the Confederate battle flag “the most-recognizable symbol of the Confederate States of America,” but it was also a symbol adopted many years after the war by the Ku Klux Klan.
And let’s be clear what the Civil War was about. It was not, in fact, the War of Northern Aggression. It was a rebellion based on the institution of slavery.
Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens made that clear in a speech delivered a few weeks before the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter. The new government, he declared, had been founded “upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”
That’s the heritage you’re celebrating when you fly that flag. That’s the heritage folks were touting when they named those forts and erected those statues.
They were delivering a message of white supremacy and racism. They were celebrating hate.
It’s long past time that we laid that message to rest.